It's a plan president Tom Lewand, general manager Martin Mayhew and head coach Jim Schwartz put together in 2009 when they all came together to try and get the Lions back from the depths of the NFL cellar.
Schwartz said Wednesday that the plan isn't "sexy" and didn't see any immediate results. It has, however, allowed him, Mayhew and Lewand to completely tear down a broken roster and build it up with players that fit a specific role and are tailored to the plan.
"The hardest thing to do in professional sports or probably life or business or anything else is sticking with a plan when you don't have immediate gratification," Schwartz said Wednesday at the Lions' Kickoff Luncheon at Ford Field.
"But with the management of the Lions and the ownership of the Lions we've been able to stick with the plan. It's not always sexy and it's not always anything but boring, but part of this is the grind you go through with the process.
"We work the process. This is the way we practice. This is the way we meet. This is the way we do things and we don't deviate very much from them. Players can take comfort in that and I think you can develop players that way and you see players improve."
The Lions saw their first results last season with a 10-6 record and berth in the playoffs for the first time since 1999.
Lewand admitted Wednesday that there is still a little luck that has to happen along the way, but developing a very specific plan, and having the discipline to stick with it, is how the Lions will approach this upcoming season and every season here on out with this management team and coaching staff.
"We started this process back in 2009 when Martin and I sat down and we talked about what our philosophy was. From that philosophy we wanted to develop a plan and the first part of that plan was hiring a head coach," Lewand said.
"We were very fortunate to find a head coach in Jim who fit literally every one of the criteria we were looking for in a head coach and a guy that shared the same philosophy of how you build a team and then develop that plan around that philosophy and then most importantly to have the discipline to stick to the plan."
The Lions have gotten better every season under Schwartz, though it was a slow process. They went from 2-14 to 6-10 in Schwartz's first two seasons. Despite the minor signs of improvement, the Lions never deviated from the plan.
Vice Chairman Bill Ford says it's a plan that in a lot of ways parallels the one orchestrated by the Ford Motor Company around the same time the Lions were implementing theirs. That was the height of the economic crisis and the auto industry was in dire straights.
"You have to have a plan and you have to stick with it," he said. "That sounds very basic but it's so easy to get distracted. It's so easy to fall in love with what the newest idea of the day is.
"I think one thing we've done at Ford that is great and one thing the team here has done that's been great is to have a plan and stick with it."
The first thing Schwartz did when he was hired in 2009, according to Lewand, was develop a position profile for every spot on the team and laid out what scouts and coaches should look for and how to define the characteristic of each player on the roster.
The Lions then found a 5,000-yard passer and developed an already gifted receiver and found a few free agents to fill in some gaps. The result has been a team that is featured on the cover of the NFL preview edition of Sports Illustrated this week, will play in five nationally televised games - the most allowed to any one team - and one that now has to live up to ever growing expectations.
Ford, Lewand and Schwartz all believe those are a result of sticking to the plan.